Monday Musings | Book Buying Habits

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I guess it comes as no surprise that my book buying habits have changed over the years, but as I was celebrating a great find at the library (yes, I’m a nerd), I wondered if everyone has a list of criteria that determines whether they buy a book or not. Or, more realistically, what those criteria are.

When I  grew up, the books I “bought” were the ones I successfully convinced my parents and relatives to buy for me. When I started having a (small) allowance, I was very picky when it came to actually biting the bullet and buying a book with my limited funds. At this point in life, I mostly bought books that I had already read but loved. But once I moved into my own place and started my first “grown up” job, there was no stopping me. I started buying books that I really wanted to read immediately, regardless of price and format. Well, let’s just say that that kind of buying isn’t sustainable and now I’m back in the “pull back” mode of buying where I have to really think carefully about the books I’m buying as I’m running out of space.

So, I normally follow a set of guidelines when I decide whether I want to buy a book: a) how badly do I want to read this book? b) do I want to read it right now? c) can I buy this as an e-book instead? d) might I find it in the library?

I find these guidelines have served me well so far, and when I see an anticipated read at the library, it’s extra exciting.

Do you give yourself any guidelines when deciding whether or not to buy a book? How have your book buying habits changed throughout the years?

Monday Musings | Disappointed by Cover Copy

Reading a book in a bar

Have you ever finished a book feeling a little unsatisfied but unable to pinpoint exactly why? Like… you didn’t dislike the book, per se, but you felt vaguely let down? This happened to me last weekend, and after thinking about it for a while, I realized why: my interpretation of the book’s cover copy was different than what the book ended up being.

The book in question is 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad (coming out tomorrow from Penguin Random House Canada), which is mainly about Lizzie and her relationship with food and self-image. I did get that the book was going to be centered around those topics from the copy, but what I felt let down by was it was described as “hilarious” both in the description and in a quote. I don’t want to say that this book won’t be hilarious to other people, but I will say that I assumed that I would be laughing out loud throughout the reading process. So, when I wasn’t feeling that catharsis, I felt like something was missing. Another reason why I felt thrown off — and one could argue that this is my own shortsightedness — was that I expected the book to be a linear narrative that follows Lizzie smoothly from one stage of her life to the next. What I didn’t realize was that the book is in fact 13 linked short stories (again, maybe I should have deduced that from the title?). It was a little disorienting when the first chapter was written in first person only to have to adjust to second person in the second chapter. It’s not that short stories are bad, it’s just that I wasn’t expecting to be reading a book of stories, if that makes sense.

So, sadly, I finished the book feeling underwhelmed. I may enjoy the book more if/when I do a re-read of it, but I don’t feel compelled to do so yet.

Have you ever been disappointed by a book’s description?

Monday Musings | Unpopular Opinions

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child J.K. Rowling New Book

(Photo via The Telegraph)

One of the things that I like most about being on the internet and social media in particular is the excitement you feel when others are excited about certain things: Benedict Cumberbatch lands a new role! A new Marvel movie is out! A new HARRY POTTER book! The downside to this is how strange you feel when you don’t share the excitement.

Last week, news broke that J.K. Rowling’s new project — Harry Potter and the Cursed Child — will be published in play form. It pains me to say this as a Harry Potter fan, but I just couldn’t muster up the same excitement as everyone else has. I don’t know why! I’ve felt the same ambivalence towards all other Harry Potter spin-offs: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quidditch Through the Ages, etc. I think maybe it’s because I’m so attached to the original seven books that I think everything else is just trying to match the greatness that was? (I know this is incredibly unfair of me, but I guess that’s what makes it an opinion…) I suppose, what I’m trying to say is, I’m skeptical. Can the original magic be recreated? We’ll soon find out.

Do you have any unpopular opinions? Are you excited about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Monday Musings | Library Love

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Happy Monday, friends! How’s your week going? I finished reading A Little Life over the weekend, and fell into something similar to despair. That book just rips your heart out and stomps on it, doesn’t it? (I’m obviously still not over it…)

Anyway, as I was walking home today, my thoughts (naturally) drifted towards my local library and how wonderful it is. The Toronto Public Library system is honestly one of the best I’ve ever experienced. There are so many books! They will send books to my home branch! I can place holds for books that aren’t even out yet! I’m sure many library systems are fantastic, so I thought I’d encourage the library love!

Do you love your library system? What’s your favourite thing about it? What’s the most beautiful branch you’ve been to?

Monday Musings | Are You #TeamAusten or #TeamBronte?

Bronte Penguin Classics Oxford Classics

Over the past few years, I’ve spoken to a lot of book lovers and whenever the subject of Jane Austen and any of the Brontes come up, there’s almost always a debate between Team Austen and Team Bronte. (For the record, I’m Team Bronte, as you might have guessed from the photo above.)
I find this so fascinating because, more often than not, people do have a strong preference between the two. Now, I’m not saying that Bronte fans actively dislike Austen and vice versa, but I do find a divide between the two camps and I wonder why that is. (Even when thinking about it myself, I am clearly identify that I really like the Brontes and always felt like Austen was hard to get through, with the exception of Northanger Abbey.)
It’s been a while since I’ve read an Austen novel so I can’t pinpoint the differences between authors — I can’t even explain how it is that I’ve loved every single Bronte novel that I’ve read, no matter which sibling wrote it– so I’m hoping you can help me out here!
Do you have a clear preference between Austen and the Brontes? Why do you think there’s such a divide?

Monday Musings | Riverhead Books’ New Colophon

Riverhead Books New Colophon 2016

Photo source: Riverhead Books’ Facebook Page

Happy Monday, friends! This week is already off to a great start for me as I’ve been geeking out over Riverhead Books’ new colophon all day! (Am I the only one who learned what “colophon” means today?) I learned about the re-design this morning and I can’t stop thinking about it, especially the gorgeous video they made to reveal it — see above, or on Riverhead Books’ Instagram here.

If you’re like me and hadn’t heard of the term “colophon” before, here’s how Wikipedia defines it:

“In publishing, a colophon is a brief statement containing information about the publication of a book such as the place of publication, the publisher, and the date of publication. A colophon may also be emblematic or pictorial in nature.”

As someone who doesn’t specialize in graphic design, I’ve always been interested in learning how book covers and advertisements are made, but I’ll admit that I never really thought about the process behind creating a colophon. Paste Magazine’s exclusive reveal of the Riverhead colophon gets a little behind designer and Riverhead Art Director Helen Yentus’ inspiration and I think it’s worth a read. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and I think Yentus did a fantastic job of modernizing the Riverhead colophon while staying true to its previous version so that it remains recognizable. Now I’m going to pay more attention to everyone else’s!

What do you think? Do you like Riverhead’s new colophon? Do you have a favourite colophon? (Am I ever going to stop saying “colophon”?)

Monday Musings | Reading Series

Divergent Movie Tie In Veronica Roth One More Page Blog

Over the weekend, I participated in #24in48 — a readathon with a goal of spending 24 out of 48 hours on reading — for the first time and had a blast! I didn’t quite reach the 24 hour goal (logging just over 12 hours – oops), but I did finish two and a half books, which felt awesome! One of those books is something you’ve probably heard of and read years ago: Divergent by Veronica Roth.

My one line reaction? I devoured it! I finished it and immediately wished that I had Insurgent on hand. To make sure I continued this forward momentum (and because I didnt want to wait any longer), I made a quick stop to the bookstore after work today. Yeeees! As they say, my night is all booked. 😉

Anyway, this frenzy to make sure I had Insurgent on hand also has something to do with my past failures at keeping up with series. I find that if I don’t keep going with a series immediately, I often drop off and not go back, no matter how much I enjoyed the first book. I’m not sure what causes this exactly, but I have a stinking suspicion that it’s because I have access to SO MANY unread books at home that there’s always something else I could be reading. That being said, I’m hoping to learn how to stick with series again. I rue the day that I drop off on a series that could be my next Harry Potter!

Did you participate in #24in48? Have you read the Divergent series? Do you have trouble keeping up with series?

Monday Musings | Why Do We So Easily Discount Fan Fiction?

Monday Musings One More Page Book Blog Reading App

For some reason, fan fiction seems to have a bad reputation.

Whether this is true of other people or not (let me know if it is or isn’t!), I’ve often found myself reluctant to describe a book or a piece of writing as fan fiction for fear of it being immediately discredited. Over the years, I’ve wondered why that is.

Is it because one of the most famous works of fan fiction in recent years was E.L. James’ 50 Shades of Grey where she reimagined Bella and Edward’s relationship in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight? Is it because we don’t believe that fans could write compelling stories? Is it because fan fiction is mainly shared on the internet, and we don’t really take the internet seriously?

When I was growing up and in the height of my Harry Potter obsession, I’ll happily admit that I would peruse fanfiction.net for hours on end. (This was before J.K. Rowling officially paired up Ron and Hermione and I was a Harry/Hermione shipper.) I loved being able to see the things I imagined take a tangible form and it thrilled me to think that someone had such similar visions as I did. Though I never took the step to write fan fiction myself, I loved following the creative process of others and will always have respect for it.

Of course, I think the rise of fan culture is helping alter the public’s perception of fan fiction and other fan-made works quite a bit. Books like Sam Maggs’ The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy have been wonderful for that. Maybe, in a few more years, I won’t be scared to label something as fan fiction.

Do you read fan fiction? Do you ever wonder why so many readers are so quick to dismiss fan fiction? Why do you think that is?

Monday Musings | Would You Read a Book in App Format?

Monday Musings One More Page Book Blog Reading App

Will apps, instead of physical books, become the new norm?

Hi friends!

First of all, I apologize: I seem to have fallen into the bad habit of only writing Monday Musings… To be honest, I feel like I’m going through some kind of blogging “sophomore slump.” Plus, with a lot of new things happening in my life, it’s been harder and harder to sit down and blog. I hope I can kick this funk soon! I’ve read some really incredible books that I can’t wait to blog about (note: Simon VS the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, The Widow by Fiona Barton, etc, and the Carly Rae Jepsen Book Tag that I’ve been meaning to do!). However, I hope you will bear with me in the meantime until I get my mojo back!

Anyway, back to today! Just as I was thinking about what to write about today, I came across a tweet that caught my attention:

The tweet links to this article that outlines what to expect from Wally Lamb’s upcoming book –or, more accurately, app. It’s interesting to note that the publisher has decided to forgo not only paper editions of the book, but e-books as well. I suppose I see the merit in it, in that it means that everyone who is interested in the book will have no choice but to download the app. And, to be fair, the bundle included in the app (“an original soundtrack, a full cast audio drama narrating the story, and a documentary about Lamb, shot in the movie theater that inspired the novel,” according to Electric Lit) sounds pretty enticing. I’m definitely interested in seeing how the novel and app is received when it comes out next year.

What do you think of this book/app? Would you download it? Do you think it’s a wise choice for those involved to not publish a physical book and e-book as well? 

Monday Musings | In Defense of Spoilers

Book and Tea One More Page Book Blog Karen

Note: Don’t worry, this post will not have any book spoilers in them!

I sometimes wonder about my decision to post spoiler-free reviews.

Don’t get me wrong: I think that there are definitely reasons to keep things spoiler-free (in fact, that’s how I prefer it when reading reviews myself), but as a review writer, I do have times when I’m itching to discuss big events in books.

I think it all comes down to the fact that sometimes, when critically engaging with and discussing a book, big twists and revelations are a big turning point, whether it be regarding a character’s motives, or the “point” that an author is trying to make. When these big events happen in books that I’m planning on reviewing, it can be hard to explore certain things without referencing the spoiler. What ends up happening is a wishy-washy sort of review where I apologize over and over again for being so vague and for not being able to explain my thoughts properly.

At times like these, I wonder: is it worth it to post these sort of reviews?

I guess it depends on what my readers are getting out of my reviews. Do they just want to know whether a book is worth reading or not? (In that case, maybe a “you need to read this” sort of review is enough?) Or are they here for critical analysis (which requires quotes and events to back up my points)? I probably will never have a concrete answer for this, as there’s probably an audience for both types of posts, but sometimes I wonder if going spoiler-free is worth it.

What do you think? Do you appreciate when reviews are spoiler-free? Does reading spoilers affect your enjoyment of a book? If you’re a book blogger, do you grapple with posting spoiler-free vs. spoiler-filled reviews?

(Ps. Because of these thoughts, I’m SUPER glad that The Socratic Salon exists. Everybody’s free to  be spoiler-y! Seriously, check the site out. It’s run by a group of super intelligent readers, and the comment sections are fantastic.)